Travelers don’t necessarily expect to see resort fees, or extra expenses added to their bills for things that other hotels include in the bill, when staying at a hotel. It turns out, however, that this is an increasingly common practice. It lets hotels advertise lower rates and impose fees when guests get there.
Urban Facility Fee?
The Wall Street Journal recently looked at the continuing growth of resort fees, and what you might pay at hotels of varying price levels. At a Best Western near Disneyland, you’ll pay an extra $5 per day for the privilege of having a heated pool and spa on the property. The hotel also says that the fee is used for “general upkeep” of the property.
The Crowne Plaza Times Square charges $30 per day, which is says includes paying for the pool, fitness center, internet access, and free drinks for customers. Wait — if you’re paying for them every day, whether you have them or not, aren’t the drinks by definition not free?
Even people who run travel websites can be caught by these fees. Paul English, one of the founders of travel sites Kayak and Lola, stayed at a hotel in San Francisco that charged a $28 “urban facility fee” per night, which includes WiFi, use of the gym, and a discount at the hotel’s restaurant. Even though English wasn’t going to use any of those features, the hotel told him that the fee was still mandatory.
“Full and accurate pricing”
As ridiculous as these fees sound, visitors often don’t know about them until they’re already at the hotel, and they’re increasing. According to Resortfeechecker.com, the number of hotels charging fees is up 26% in just the last year. Almost all of the state attorneys general are now part of an investigation into the practice.
“We want the lodging businesses to simply present their full and accurate pricing right upfront, so the consumer can see what a room will cost them,” District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine told the WSJ.
The hotel industry argues that customers who book directly on their own websites see all of the fees disclosed clearly, and it’s not their fault if third-party booking websites don’t provide their customers with all of the information. Hotels, of course, have a good reason to encourage their customers not to use third-party booking websites, since they have to pay commissions.